Best of the Best: Melissa Fenn Wins Inaugural Distinguished Advisor Award

Melissa Fenn, M.Ed., a senior advisor II in Kent State University’s College of Nursing, has been described by students as someone with a heart of gold, a source of comfort and “the best of the best.” During her 16 years at the university, Fenn has worked to form bonds with her students that transcend academics and provide a supportive voice they can trust during challenging times.

For her exemplary work, Fenn was recently awarded the university's inaugural Distinguished Advisor Award by University Advising and the Kent Academic Advising Support and Advising Association (KASADA). Of her 24-year advising career, Fenn has spent 16 at Kent State's College of Nursing.

The Distinguished Advising Award is the most prestigious honor in academic advising. Academic advisors across all colleges and campuses were nominated by fellow colleagues, staff members and students who believe they provided extraordinary advising and showed exemplary dedication in the work they do and how it impacts the lives of their students.

Melody Tankersley, Ph.D., senior vice president and provost, virtually presented the award to Fenn, who was present at a surprise ceremony held on May 2 in Henderson Hall.

Of the 190 overall nominations received, 57 academic advisors were nominated with 83% of those submissions coming from students, who shared touching stories about their advisors.

“I am honored and grateful to receive the Distinguished Advising Award,” Fenn said. "I am fortunate to advise many students for their entire undergraduate careers and am rewarded each and every day by seeing them succeed and go on to do great things. However, the recognition and appreciation I received from students, faculty and my advising colleagues when I was presented with this award was humbling and a moment I will cherish.”

Fenn was praised by students for her compassionate listening skills, strong advocacy on their behalf, and commitment to forming meaningful mentoring relationships.

Here is Fenn speaking with Kent State Today about the secrets to her success as an advisor.

Fenn works specifically with students in the Honors College and advises many of them from orientation to graduation. Students highlighted Fenn's exceptional ability to remember the individual circumstances and needs of each student she advises, often following up after difficult situations to provide emotional support and guidance.

"Melissa is incredible at really listening to each student's unique story and situation," one nominating student commented. "She does whatever she can to advocate for us and ensure we have the resources and support to succeed."

In addition to advising individual students, Fenn has helped connect current nursing students with program alumni working in specialties that interest them.

“My biggest reward is seeing these students graduate and go on to do amazing things in their nursing careers," Fenn said. "Knowing I played a small role in supporting them means everything."

POSTED: Thursday, May 30, 2024 02:24 PM
Updated: Friday, May 31, 2024 10:24 AM
April McClellan-Copeland
Rami Daud